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August 25, 2014

Today is the feast of St. Louis IX, king of France. To commemorate him, we offer a brief excerpt from Steve Weidenkopf's forthcoming book, The Glory of the Crusades:

Louis’s insistence on taking the cross [in December 1244] and journeying to the Holy Land was an outgrowth of his deep faith and love for Christ. He yearned to see Jerusalem under Christian control once more...

August 13, 2014

Today the Church celebrates the memorial of Sts. Hippolytus (170-235) and Pontian (r. 230-235)—a most interesting pair of early Christian men who were at first enemies but now share eternal glory. 

In its first several centuries, the Church dealt with crises both external and internal. Externally, the Church suffered for nearly 250 years under the violent persecutions of Roman emperors, begun under mad Nero in A.D. 64 and finally stopped under Constantine in 313. Internally, the...

July 15, 2014

Today marks the 915th anniversary of the liberation of the Holy City of Jerusalem by the warriors of Christendom on the First Crusade. Those who entered the city in that summer of 1099 had endured three years of battle, starvation, and disease in order to complete their armed pilgrimage to the Holy Sepulchre of the Lord. Eighty percent of their brothers in arms who marched from Europe with them were dead, missing, or had deserted. Those few who remained succeeded in accomplishing...

May 20, 2014

Church historians generally recognize two popes with the title “the Great”: St. Leo I (r. 440–461) and St. Gregory I (590–604). Some Catholic historians add St. Nicholas I (858–867). Pope St. John Paul II’s recent canonization was cause for discussion over whether he, too, should be afforded this honorary title.

Some Catholics granted the designation even before his canonization, as the names of a high school in Dumfries, Virginia...

April 29, 2014

In the pantheon of great women in Church history, pride of place should be accorded the young mystic from Siena, St. Catherine, whose feast we celebrate today.

Born in 1347 to a humble wool-dyer, Catherine became one the most influential persons of fourteenth-century Christendom. After she became a Dominican tertiary at the age of nineteen she embarked on a life of intense spiritual practices. Her reputation for great holiness spread quickly, and she found herself answering letters...